I love writing lists of stuff to do. Especially when I have too many things to do, as the process of writing lists and adding more items also acts as a handy distraction from actually doing things on the list.
For years I’ve been experimenting with different ways to make lists, in the hope of reaching list nirvana.
During my journey I’ve tried different types of paper based lists using my favourite Moleskine notebooks or yellow legal pages trying to decide which type of paper note book best helped me write lists (Conclusion: the Moleskine is smaller hence easier to carry around, but the legal pads push me to write more. There’s something about the yellow paper and ruled lines that screams to be written on.)
I’ve also tried out dozens of different pens before settling on my favourite – the Uni-Ball Eye Fine in either blue or black.
Then there’s all the computer based to-do list solutions. I’m always keen to have a fiddle at some new software, so I’ve tried out a shed load of to-do solutions for computers and iPads, but hadn’t really found one I was happy to stick with.
However I recently stumbled upon a great solution called Workflowy, that works really well as a way of writing and storing lists on-line.
You need to sign up for a Workflowy account (free), and then you’re good to go to start making lists.
To make a list, you just start typing. Hit return to create a new bullet point. Hit the tab key to indent an item to a sublist list of the item above, or shift-tab to move it back. You can keep indenting items to create as many sublists as you want. Items can be moved up or down the list by simply dragging the item to where you want it to go.
Once your list starts getting really long and cluttered, you can click on the bullet point for an item to zoom in on just that bullet point alone including any sub-items underneath it. To get back to your full list, you simply click Home at the top of the page.
Once you’ve completed an item, you can mark it as complete, which then greys the item and puts a line through it. You can toggle between showing both completed and non-completed items, or hiding completed items to only show non-completed items.
Workflowy is actually easier to use than it is to describe, so it’s worth creating an account and spending five minutes playing with it to see if it works for you.
The basic account is free, or there is an option to create a paid “Pro” account for US $49 per year. Pro accounts let you make unlimited lists (free accounts are limited to 500 items per month), and will also allow people to update their lists when their computer is not connected to the internet.
There is also iPad and Android apps that are available to allow you to manage and update your lists on your phone and tablet on the go. Any changes get synced across to your Workflowy account, so you’ll see them the next time you’re at your laptop.
Other features include tagging, which allow you to add hashtag labels or @person labels to items. This allows you to quickly zoom in on a group of common items regardless of where they sit in your giant list.
Workflowy – a bit hard to describe, but very easy to use and love. Give it a try, and let me know if it works for you too.